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March 29, 2006

Heckuva Puzzling Interview, Brownie

Brownie Malbug_13I was filled with a mixture of pity and revulsion as Stephen Colbert interviewed Mike "Brownie" Brown, former head of FEMA, last night.

On one hand, he seemed completely willing to accept the mantle of whipping boy for the debacle of the response to Hurricane Katrina, despite the evident culpability of a host of characters.  On the other hand, whether he was joking or not, he seemed comfortable having the blame shifted to his former boss, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Brown's glib attempts to make light of his situation and his nervous laughter were more than a little disgusting, even in the context of a comedy show.  I kept thinking about the hundreds of needless deaths, and here was this guy who was in charge of coordinating the federal response chortling away on national TV just five months later.  It merely reinforced perceptions of the ineptness that precipitated his downfall.

Yes, FEMA was but one player in the Katrina cluster-fuck.  Compounding the mistakes of a brainless FEMA administrator were also a feckless governor and a clueless mayor.  (Katrina was a tragic "perfect storm" in many ways.)

But if Brown's goal last night was to rehabilitate his character and integrity, then I don't think he did himself any favors.

[Watch video – 7:11, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 7:11, WMV format, low bandwidth]

Of course, it wouldn't be a "Colbert Report" without some hilarious allusion to homosexuality.  Colbert brought out a thinly disguised David Cross as "ultra left-wing radio talk show host Russ Lieber," putatively to discuss school vouchers.

But the interview soon morphed into a bizarre and tangled debate on gay adoption.  See for yourself.

[Watch video – 4:46, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 4:46, WMV format, low bandwidth]

October 21, 2005

Weekend Grist

As we drift into another weekend, and New York drifts toward a record for October precipitation, a few random meanderings ...


Taxis If you are a cabbie, you might want to consider how your choice of radio programming affects your bottom line.

I was riding home the other night, and my driver was listening to a radio program hosted by someone known as "Citizen K."  (Google references to him are sparse, and for good reason.)  This guy was recycling every boilerplate bulletpoint from the fringe left, and was hawking some sort of conspiracy-mongering video.

His grand unifying theory to all that ails Planet Earth was stultifyingly predictable: It's Bush's fault.

Continue reading "Weekend Grist" »

October 20, 2005

All Hail Comedy Central


South Park returned to its "South Park Republican" roots last night with a season premiere that lit into global warming hysteria and the Hurricane Katrina blame game, using a dam breach that destroyed the town of "Beaverton" as a proxy.

[Watch video – 1:34, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 1:34, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 1:34, QT format]


Xandirspanky_3 Meanwhile, Drawn Together is back for a second season with the addition of a new housemate, a Strawberry Shortcake-like character with a history of genocide.

But the episode I'm really looking forward to is next week with the gay wedding of Xandir and Spanky Ham.  For insurance purposes only, of course.

[Watch video – 2:44, WMV format, high bandwidth]

(Corrupted audio from original upload fixed)

October 19, 2005


Malbug_13You have got to be kidding me.

Quote Asshole of the Day

Malbug_13"Unfortunately, it's the crossroads where Katrina meets Rita.  I always knew I was against same-sex unions."

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)

You might want to fire whichever writer came up with that one for you, Senator.

Is it not enough that some politicians have to be against gay marriage, but that they also have to be incredible jerks about it?  It's hard to count the ways that one brief statement is insensitive.

[HT: Queerty]

October 14, 2005

Without a Paddle . . .

  Yes, this is real.

In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.

Make sure you scroll down and watch the video.

So many levels of irony, I honestly wouldn't know where to begin.

Our media, ladies and gentlemen.

September 27, 2005

Katrina Swamps Media Credibility

Malbug_13Katrina has helped transmogrify the "adversarial media" into the "antagonistic media."  BoiFromTroy has the goods.

September 26, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Rita is supposed to make landfall in Texas, which is good for Barbara Bush because she can insult survivors closer to home."

— Bill Maher, HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher

September 23, 2005

A Bitch of a Sister


I hope to God that Rita, already a tragedy, doesn't turn into a replay of Katrina.

But I am prone to start thinking that major disasters strike every time I fly home from overseas.  (Rita is scheduled to make landfall about the time I get on my plane tomorrow; Katrina hit as I was on my way back from Beijing.)

September 14, 2005

Rall's Fans: The Real Suckers


I would like to amend what I said yesterday about columnists (and bloggers) saying outrageous things mainly to get attention, and add "certain cartoonists" to the indictment.  Specifically, a skunk masquerading in the guise of Ted Rall.

The man who can't draw and who writes even more poorly has penned a column calling Americans "suckers" for giving to charity.  Government, Rall believes, is the only instrument capable of responding to disasters (the same government, incidentally, that many liberals and conservatives alike believe screwed up the Katrina response in the first place.)

Rall is same the rodent who, among other random acts of kindness, vomited ink onto paper in the form of a scurrilous attack on a dead military hero.

Maybe 15th place on Bernard Goldberg's list of despicable idiots wasn't high enough for Rall.

September 12, 2005

Blanco, Nagin Should Follow Suit


Drudge is reporting that Michael "Heck of a Job" Brown is resigning as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  (I haven't seen the story yet, but I'm guessing Mr. Brown just coincidentally decided that he wanted to "spend more time with his family.")

Maybe this means that presidents (of both parties) will learn that you might not want the person who's in charge of our safety during disasters to be a strictly political patronage spot.

By the way, kudos to whichever political hack nicely timed the announcement so that it would be buried by the Roberts confirmation hearings.

Update: The Fournier story that is beginning to move indicates that Brown might actually be accepting some responsibility, instead of using typical DC resignation-speak:

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president," three days after losing his onsite command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

"The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there," Brown told The Associated Press.

Update 2 ... Bush reax (from WaPo):

The president side-stepped questions about Brown's resignation. "Maybe you know something I don't know. I've been working," Bush said to reporters on an inspection tour of damage in Gulfport, Miss. Bush said he planned to talk with Brown's boss, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, from Air Force One on the flight back to Washington.

"There will be plenty of time to figure out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said.

Earlier today, Bush toured flood-ravaged New Orleans and denied race or the war in Iraq played a part in the administration's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

"The storm didn't discriminate and neither will the recovery effort," Bush said when asked if the government's slow response was due to the fact that many of the storm's victims were poor African-Americans, a charge some U.S. black leaders have levied against the administration.

"When those Coast Guard choppers . . . were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin. They wanted to save lives," he said.

Bush said the government will take a "sober look" at "what went on and how it went on" amid continued criticism of what is seen as an inadequate federal response to a national disaster.

Asked by reporters whether the war in Iraq meant U.S. troops were stretched too thin to respond quickly, Bush answered testily that it was "preposterous to claim that the engagement in Iraq meant there weren't enough troops here, pure and simple."

"We've got plenty of troops to do both," he insisted.

September 09, 2005

Looking for Good News Where We Can Find It


Katrina's death toll might turn out to be much lower than feared.  Let's hope that it is so.

September 07, 2005

Richard Simmons Jumps the Couch on ET


Richardsimmons I tried to resist.  Really, I did.  I tried so hard.

They teased me last night with Mary Hart's interview of a shuddering Richard Simmons, clad in his trademark short-shorts and a black "muscle" shirt with hearts sequined all over it.  I was strong and posted about Oprah instead.

But then Entertainment Tonight's cameras followed Richard today to hurricane country for a tearful, blubbering reunion with his brother.  (Actually, Richard blubbered, while his brother just looked embarrassed and bored.)

Tonight the "muscle" shirt was identical, except that the sequined hearts were now on a red background.

I'm sure some will call me an insensitive prick, but watch the video for yourself and tell me that Richard isn't just asking for it.

Tell me that he isn't either seriously disturbed, that he doesn't have the emotional level of a 7-year-old, or that perhaps he isn't mildly retarded.  (If it is the latter, I apologize, but the man has been putting his flaming, lampoon-able self out there for years.)  Above all else, tell me he isn't trying just a little too hard to milk this human tragedy for publicity.

You just know the ET crew was stifling their laughter until they could get back to the truck and play it back, then they just laughed and laughed until they cried.

Did you catch the details of the story?  Richard didn't lose anyone in the disaster, nor does he really seem to know anyone who did.  He just seems really, really upset that he knows people who were down there ... and lived.  (Time to up the meds, Richard, because that describes about three-quarters of the U.S. population!)

I need to stop typing and roll it.  It's too much ...

[Watch video – 6.6mb, 2:36, WMV format]

September 06, 2005

Celebs to the Rescue


Oprahno Like most people, I'm probably a bit torn about the massive influx of celebrities into the hurricane-hit Gulf States.

On one hand, it brings needed attention and the attendant financial contributions to an unimaginable tragedy.

But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder how many resources, human or otherwise, are drained away so that these stars can get their positive PR bump?  How many state troopers or police have to provide security or escort the A-listers?  How much badly needed gasoline and bottled water do their convoys guzzle up?

Entertainment Tonight has been all celeb-response, all the time.  Tonight they trailed around with Oprah, fresh back from hiatus to lend the disaster her imprimatur.  (I will not post the embarrassing video of a sequined Richard Simmons blubbering and shaking like a leaf, however.  It is too embarrassing and demeaning to us all.)

ET did a good job of steering clear of the political blame game.  Which is probably a good thing, because the edition of 48 Hours that aired immediately afterward on CBS made it clear that there is plenty of blame to go around on all sides.

[Watch video – 4.4mb, WMV format]

September 05, 2005

The International Community Lends a Hand


How to spin good news if you're a Bush-hater:

• He waited almost a whole week to say "yes."  He should have accepted the aid at the moment it was offered, even if it meant accepting things we already have and depriving live-saving assistance to other areas of the world.

• This is all a Halliburton conspiracy allowing Bush to pass off responsibility for his failure to someone else.

• This is more evidence of America's inherent incompetence.

• For some vague reason, Impeach Now!

I have not made a recent journey into the fever swamps of the liberal blogs.  I'm certain I am missing something much better.

September 03, 2005

If Not a Truce, Then a Rallying Cry


There has been some criticism about posts here on the political dimension to the hurricane response.  I would like to think that "I didn't start it," but I have nevertheless contributed to it.

Part of the raison d'etre of this website is to puncture the balloons of the pompous gasbags on all sides of the spectrum.  (Yes, I am "right-leaning.")  So I have no plans to stop doing so, even at a time of great national tragedy.

BigdollarHowever, taking a cue from Gay Patriot, I am again going to remind readers of the great need for financial assistance through reputable charities. 

By some current estimates, losses from the storm could top $100 billion.  That is nearly $337 for every man, woman and child in America, as of this writing.  (Please, in the spirit of this posting, no snarkiness about how much we've spent in Iraq, or I'll be forced to retaliate on entitlement spending.)

To help keep things in perspective, 9/11 was clearly the worst disaster in American history in terms of lives lost and what it did to our economy.  Obviously, there were direct costs, as well as many indirect costs, such as enhancements to airline and homeland security and the impact on the stock market and economy.

But looking just at direct costs, $100 billion is more than the entire estimated, direct impact of 9/11 on New York City.  (The total direct and indirect cost of 9/11 is probably closer to $1 trillion.  And if you think I'm minimizing the effect on New York City, that's not my intent; I live here.)

This is a huge one, folks.  We dug deep then, making 2001 a record year for charity.  It's time to pony up again.

Fundraisers often talk about "donor fatigue."  Until recently, they have said it has been worse than ever before, in part because of the exhausting scope of the tsunami.

But this one came right into our own house.  Let's show the world what Americans are made of, all over again.

Kanye West, Deconstructed (With Video)


Kanyemyers At some point – right around landfall, probably – Hurricane Katrina stopped being a terrible disaster and started being a political football for the left to toss around casually.

Last night, rapper Kanye West tried out for quarterback, and he's getting mad props for exercising his "right of free speech." ("Free speech" is defined by the left as "anything slurring Republicans."  It is not to be confused with "hate speech," which the left defines as "anything said by Republicans.")

Joined by comedian Mike Myers, West used his moment in the sun on NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" to baselessly perpetuate a number of outrageous memes.  He starts out strong:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media.  If you see a black family, it says they're looting.  If you see a white family, it says they're looking for food.  And you know it's been five days, because most of the people are black."

As far as I can tell, this rumor about press coverage is getting such mileage exclusively from a single event in which Yahoo News Photos has been accused of believing that black people "loot" while white people "find things."

But Yahoo does not write the captions.  The photo of the black looter came from the AP, while the photo of the white looter came from French news service AFP.  Different news organizations have different standards.

Indeed, it is to the AP's credit (or to the AP member who wrote the caption) and to AFP's shame that it uses the English language accurately and refuses to excuse criminal behavior, regardless of the race involved.  (Remember, another European news organization famously refuses even to call terrorists "terrorists.")

"So now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give. And just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there."

West, an African-American, feels it incumbent to remind us that "most of the people are black" and that those are "(his) people down there."  If he feels that the media is unfairly dividing tragedy victims by race based on one dubious example, then why deepen those divisions by speaking so callously of non-black victims?

"With the set-up, the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

There's the race card again.  ZZZzzzzz ...

While there is no doubt the response could have been faster – as is usually the case in a tragedy of virtually unprecedented scale, and a fact the President himself has acknowledged – it is (yes) anti-American to believe that your own country is "set up" to help the poor or black people "as slow as possible."  While "everyone's a little bit racist," as the song goes, it takes a twisted mind to think that our nation's rescue and protection infrastructure is "set up" to respond differently to people of differing financial means or colors.

West should try to peddle his line of garbage to all the non-blacks who have also been killed or affected, and who make up the majority population in the parishes adjoining New Orleans (to say nothing of other areas and states that were impacted.)

"We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

Umm, I thought that the citizens were the ones who started shooting at their would-be rescuers.  Perhaps that's why our country was "set up" for a slow response.

OK, now it's Mike Myers' turn, and you can see exactly what is racing through his mind: I hope to God the next thing that comes up on the TelePrompTer will make sense after that absurd non sequitur!

As it turns out, Myers' next line is about rebuilding, which didn't quite follow what West said, but no matter.  West barrels blindly ahead, ending with this little coda:

"George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Mike Myers' head darts back and forth a bit nervously the entire time.  At this point he pauses, clearly wondering if West will ever decide to read from the TelePrompTer.  Then, as Myers begins to say "Please call," his microphone is cut.  The camera cuts to a clearly rattled Chris Tucker, who makes a plea for help without any of the flecks of spittle that characterized West's outburst.

Mr. West, a few words of advice before your next tirade: Get your facts somewhere other than the Daily Kos.

And the next time you fling such a loaded (and demonstrably false) charge at the President, don't do it on a friggin' telethon.  Last I checked, 50.73 percent of those who went to the polls last year voted for George Bush.  Now, ours is a country with $11.75 trillion of purchasing power, and 50.73 percent of that is ... let's see, carry the 5 ... nearly $6 trillion!  That's a lot of money you probably just flushed down the toilet, jackass.  Does your "business manager" think you can afford that?

It will be a good thing if West truly opens his wallet to those in need, and I concede that he was just "exercising his freedom of speech."  But the First Amendment does not guarantee that in doing so, you won't make a mighty ass of yourself.

[Watch video – 9.4mb, WMV format]

September 02, 2005

Towle's Law


Towle's Law: As an online discussion on a gay-oriented Website grows larger, the probability that it will turn to the demonizing of gay Republicans approaches 1. (See "Godwin's Law.")

A "Gray" Outlook on America

Malbug_7The aptly named reporter Andrew Gray of the Reuters "news" service has penned a piece that spells a more dismal assessment for America than even his own surname might suggest.  His article is a laugher from its lead paragraph onward:

"The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society."

Gray continues his anti-American orgasm by quoting such headlines as "Anarchy in the USA" from Britain's newspaper The Sun or "Apocalypse Now" from Germany's Handelsblatt.

Repeatedly using the delicious term "some" that journalists routinely retreat behind to thinly disguise their own biases, Gray writes that "some view the response to (disasters such as the tsunami) more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

Gray then turns to the "some" who hate President Bush as an excuse to heap more scorn from abroad on the POTUS: "Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq."

Apparently, to "some" such as Andrew Gray, any dollar that goes to the very militaries that protect his right to think idiotic thoughts is a dollar wasted.

Thus, on and on goes Gray, managing to wrap everything from still-on-the-lam Osama bin Laden and America's racist nature into a piece ostensibly about hurricane relief, finishing at last with the most disingenuous of quotes:

"It's unbelievable though -- the TV images -- and your heart goes out to them."

I'm sure your heart does, Mr. Gray.  Why else would you spend every preceding paragraph trashing my country, its people, institutions and leaders?

It makes perfect sense that the piece would bear a London dateline: Anyone with an ounce of actual, firsthand knowledge of America and her citizens knows that we are a country that has suffered mightily before, and we always prevail.  And such supremely smug European assessments of the USA are perfectly illustrative of why Americans are so quick to rename our food products "freedom fries."

By the way, Mr. Gray, "some" of us think you're a big dick.

September 01, 2005

0.7 Percent or Bust!

Malbug_13Flood Americans have proven time and time again that we are unmatched in our private generosity, in addition to our government's (including the military's) mobilization of resources to trouble spots around the world.  We are also the world's largest donor of international food aid.

Despite our unrivaled charity in overall terms, international-aid gadflies believe the U.S. government is stingy, saying that it should commit more to development efforts in poor countries -- specifically, 0.7 percent of our GDP.  This artificial target, however, fails to account for private giving and many other areas where U.S. government spending contributes to international security and development.

So I have decided to contribute the same amount -- 0.7 percent of my annual net income -- to assist relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  I hope others can do the same, if you are able.

Don't get me wrong, I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to international relief and development (as I did during the tsunami), but Katrina was, quite literally, a low blow to our own nation.

The New York Times has published a comprehensive list of how you can help, including where to make a monetary donation.  Please give what you can, and to pass the word to others.

There will be plenty of time to talk later about how the disaster might have been mitigated, or about the heartless assholes in the Middle East who celebrate death and take joy in pain.

But right now there are people hurting, and Americans always take care of our own.  It is our nature.